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​​​Sedimentitas marinas del Neógeno en la bahía de Tumaco, Nariño

 Volume 3 Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Isthmian Bedrock Geology: Tilted, Bent, and Broken   

Camilo MONTES and Natalia HOYOS

ISBN impreso obra completa: 978-958-52959-1-9

ISBN digital obra completa: 978-958-52959-6-4

ISBN impreso Vol. 3: 978-958-52959-4-0

ISBN digital Vol. 3: 978-958-53131-0-1

Citation is suggested as: 

Montes, C. & Hoyos, N. 2020. Isthmian bedrock geology: Tilted, bent, and broken. In: Gómez, J. & Mateus–Zabala, D. (editors), The Geology of Colombia, Volume 3 Paleogene – Neogene. Servicio Geológico Colombiano, Publicaciones Geológicas Especiales 37, p. 451–467. Bogotá.

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A review of the bedrock geology of the Isthmus of Panama highlights tectonic deformation—tilting, bending, and breaking—, as the major controlling factor in the sites and modes of Cenozoic sedimentation. Deformation in Paleocene – early Eocene times folded and faulted a basement complex composed of plateau basalts, pelagic and hemipelagic sequences, and an overprinted magmatic arc. This deformation episode brought parts of the isthmus from lower bathyal depths to subaerial exposure, bringing about basement cooling and eroding the plutonic bodies that make up the roots of a Campanian to Eocene arc. A clastic–carbonate, less deformed, upper Eocene and younger sedimentary sequence onlaps nonconformably the basement complex. Southward tilting of the isthmus controlled the accumulation of the clastic wedge, recording first shallow marine depositional environments, followed by deepening, and then by shoaling. This sequence resulted from basin tilting that simultaneously raised the San Blas Range, eroding it, while deepening the axis of the Chucunaque Basin. Bending and breaking of the isthmus took place as it was being detached from the trailing edge of the Caribbean Plate, and marked the start of left–lateral offset of the isthmus in late Eocene times.


Keywords: Panama, isthmus, deformation.


Una revisión de la geología del basamento del Istmo de Panamá muestra que la deformación tectónica —el basculamiento, la flexión y la ruptura— es el factor principal que controla los sitios y modos de sedimentación cenozoica. La deformación durante el Paleoceno–Eoceno temprano plegó y falló el complejo de basamento compuesto por basaltos de plateau, secuencias pelágicas y hemipelágicas, y un arco magmático sobreimpuesto. Este episodio de deformación trajo partes del istmo desde las profundidades batiales inferiores a exposición subaérea, provocando el enfriamiento de rocas del basamento y la erosión de los cuerpos plutónicos que forman las raíces del arco Campaniano–Eoceno. Una secuencia sedimentaria clástica–calcárea, menos deformada, del Eoceno superior y más joven cubre discordantemente el complejo de basamento. El basculamiento del istmo hacia el sur controló la acumulación de la cuña clástica, registrando primero ambientes deposicionales marinos poco profundos, seguidos por profundización y luego somerización. Esta secuencia resultó del basculamiento de la cuenca que levantó simultáneamente la cordillera de San Blas, erosionándola, mientras se profundizaba el eje de la Cuenca de Chucunaque. La flexión y la ruptura del istmo ocurrieron cuando este se despegó de la parte trasera de la Placa del Caribe, marcando el inicio del desplazamiento sinestral del istmo a finales del Eoceno.


Palabras clave: Panamá, istmo, deformación.


CLIP                              Caribbean Large Igneous Plateau

LIP                                                                 Large Igneous Province

ODP                             Ocean Drilling Program

STRI                             Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

UNDP                        United Nations Development Program​


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